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Archive for April 2018

Information causes confusion

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Information causes confusion and information is bad, m'kay?

In a response published on the What Do They Know website, HS2 Ltd stated its reasons for refusing to release correspondence between the company and the Department for Transport about the concept of terminating the high speed line at Old Oak Common instead of Euston.

HS2 FOI18-1976, Response, page 1

HS2 FOI18-1976 Response, page 2

HS2 FOI18-1976, Response, page 3

[HS2 Ltd]

It is also contrary to the public interest to disclose information reflecting possibilities considered before a decision has been made, as such disclosure would be likely to lead to confusion and ill-informed debate.


[HS2 Ltd]
There is a public interest in favour of ensuring that a public authority does not have to expend resources on explaining and justifying information on possibilities. Therefore public officials require a thinking space in which to appraise and assess all available options before making public announcements.

The exemption requires that the qualified person for the public authority must give their reasonable opinion that the exemption is required. In the case of HS2 Ltd, our qualified person is our Chief Executive Officer and he has confirmed that in his reasonable opinion section 36(2) [of FOIA 2000] is engaged.

Heaven forfend that a public authority might have to ‘expend resources on explaining and justifying information on possibilities’, eh?

Written by beleben

April 21, 2018 at 8:28 am

Posted in HS2, London

East Coast upgrades compromised by HS2

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Much of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) is “nearing the end of its design life”, according to Network Rail, and the benefits of ‘Control Period’ investment are “at risk”. However, the value for money of a substantial upgrade to the line seems to be compromised by HS2, judging by the figures in the company’s January 2018 ‘Route Strategic Plan’.

Much of the East Coast Main Line is 'nearing the end of its design life', according to Network Rail

HS2 was sold to politicians on the basis that it would ‘avoid the need for blockades and weekend closures’ on existing lines. But at some point, the ECML existing track and signalling will have to be replaced, and that will entail track closures and disruption. Those unavoidable periods of downtime could be used to implement a 21st century upgrade of the line, vastly increasing its capability. However, because the government wants to move long distance passengers from the ECML to HS2, the economic case for such intervention is not there.

It is a similar situation to the Midland Main Line, where the case for electrification north of Bedford was destroyed by the government’s plan to cajole, or force, long distance passengers to move to HS2. The ‘outer suburban’ electrification to Corby seems to have survived because it was too far gone for transport secretary Chris Grayling to cancel.

Written by beleben

April 20, 2018 at 10:49 am

Posted in HS2, Politics, Railways

One vision going forward

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Birmingham Conservatives have launched their vision for Birmingham City Council going forward.

Birmingham Conservatives, One City Vision 2018


They are concerned that suburban areas have not benefited from concentration of investment in the city centre.

But concentration of investment in the city centre was, and is, Conservative party policy.


So how are things going to change, going forward?

Written by beleben

April 19, 2018 at 11:37 am

Posted in Birmingham, HS2

The fearsome costs of HS2

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In his latest letter to Lord Tony Berkeley regarding HS2, transport secretary Chris Grayling told him: “As you know from previous correspondence on this issue from both Lord Ahmad and Paul Maynard MP, HS2 Ltd and the Department do not agree with the  cost, schedule and engineering assertions made by Michael Byng. The Phase One funding envelope (without rolling stock) is £24.3 billion” (Railnews reported on 18 April)., 2018_04_18, 'Fears grow over true cost of HS2'

Railnews also claimed that Mr Byng’s advice had been “requested” by the Department for Transport.

[Fears grow over true cost of HS2, Railnews]

Mr Byng has prepared a 4000-page document analysing the costs of HS2. After his advice had been requested by the Department for Transport, he concluded that the true cost of Phase One between London and Birmingham is likely to be at least £50 billion, compared with the latest official figure of £24.3 billion. This includes a one-third contingency allowance but not the cost of new high speed trains. The cost of the whole scheme, including the extensions to Manchester and Leeds, is now said to top £100 billion.

twitter, @mbpcworldwide, June 2017, claimed HS2 phase 1 cost as £48 bn

Written by beleben

April 19, 2018 at 9:50 am

Posted in HS2, Politics

The advantages of going loopy

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One of the attractions of Elon Musk’s hyperloop is that it is “significantly less expensive than conventional rail infrastructure”, according to former Conservative transport minister Steven Norris.

[The hyperloop train is leaving the station – and the UK must be on it, Steven Norris, City A.M., 18 April 2018]

It could connect Gatwick and Heathrow so that they operated as one super-hub airport. It could link London to Glasgow faster than HS2. It could unlock the Northern Powerhouse.

Written by beleben

April 18, 2018 at 11:24 am

Leaders in flapdoodle

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The “High Speed Rail Industry Leaders” group started out as part of Jim Steer’s “not for profit” Greengauge 21 lobbying operation, but now has a separate website and identity, with no visible claim that it is ‘not for profit’.

On 9 April, HSRILG, or Jim, organised a photo opportunity at Crewe station, to publicise their / his new report on the ‘benefits of HS2 phase 2a (Lichfield to Crewe) and the Crewe hub’.

Who were the 'industry leaders' who turned out for the Crewe photo opp? (Jim's at the back) [twitter @BBCRadioStoke]

The report, preposterously titled “Fast-tracking Prosperity in the North West and Midlands”, claimed that “The idea that part of the planned second phase of HS2 could be delivered six years earlier, to become Phase 2a, was first suggested by HS2 Ltd Chairman Sir David Higgins in March 2014.”

But the January 2014 report “The Case for Crewe’s Network Rail Station Relocation and Opportunities for HS2” – produced by Steer Davies Gleave – claimed that “early delivery of Crewe to Lichfield would increase overall benefits and deliver significant early benefits to the North West.”

Steer Davies Gleave, 'The Case for Crewe Station Relocation, 2014'

So why is David Higgins being credited with the idea of ‘Phase 2a’, when he didn’t come up with it? After all, there is no sign of him having exhibited any original thinking during his time as HS2 chairman or Network Rail chief executive.

It could be that Jim, HS2 Ltd, and Network Rail want to ‘forget’ the January 2014 SDG report, which disparaged the existing Crewe station, and ‘made the case’ for its replacement by a hub station on a new site to the south.

Having U-turned on retaining the existing station,

  • ‘the economic appraisal of the works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub show cost benefit ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1’
  • and the ‘combination of Phase 2a and Crewe Hub is likely to have a benefit: cost ratio of over 2:1’,

according to HSRILG / Jim.

[HSRIL Phase 2a Benefits report, April 2018]

[…] The economic appraisal of the works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub show cost benefit ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1 – a good economic case. While no economic appraisal of the combination of Phase 2a and Crewe Hub has been published, it is likely overall to have a good economic case (a benefit: cost ratio of over 2:1).

As usual, actual evidence for these claims is nowhere to be seen.

Table 2 of the government’s March 2018 Crewe hub consultation response “presents the indicative benefits of splitting and joining one train per hour at Crewe and including a service to Stoke-on-Trent and Macclesfield”, for which the ‘incremental benefit cost ratio with wider impacts from 2027’ is stated as 4.1.

That is not the same thing as saying “The economic appraisal of the works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub show cost benefit ratios in the range 3.2:1 to 4.1:1”.

The costs of the ‘works needed at Crewe station to form the Hub’ would depend on what the ‘hub’ is. Those costs seem to be mostly outside the HS2 budget, and the Department for Transport has refused to release any information.

[HSRIL Phase 2a Benefits report, April 2018]

The redevelopment needed at Crewe station is complex. The availability of alternative routes and tracks through the station area will help minimise disruption to existing services while the works are carried out. Network Rail can point to having overcome similar challenges in its rebuild of Reading station completed in 2017.

In 2008 Network Rail announced a ‘£400 million’ regeneration of Reading station, but on completion in 2014 the cost had increased to £897 million. Implementing the full monty Crewe HS2 hub, including a connection to the Davenport Green high speed line, would be a bigger project than Reading, but its costs are invisible in terms of the “£55.7 billion” PR claims.

Written by beleben

April 10, 2018 at 1:08 pm

Vorsprung durch twittnik

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twitter, @modern_railways, 'signs of progress on the railway'

Written by beleben

April 4, 2018 at 2:57 pm

Posted in Railways

Could railway overhead line equipment ‘reach 5,000 degrees centigrade’?

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Electrified overhead line equipment can reach 5,000 degrees centigrade – over three times the temperature needed to melt steel, according to Network Rail’s EGIP twitter.

twitter @networkrailegip, 'Electrified overhead line equipment can reach 5,000 degrees centigrade – over three times the temperature needed to melt steel'

Wouldn’t the overhead lines melt, before they reached 5000 celsius?

Written by beleben

April 2, 2018 at 10:34 am

Posted in Railways